For the first time in weeks, I am able to sit down to my computer without Bill crawling over, pulling himself up on my chair, and hitting the sticky “ENTER” key in the lower right of the keyboard, setting the computer off into repetitive hysterics, and requiring a credit card to un-stick it.
The last few weeks have been hectic, with my in-laws visiting, the kids home for Purim, Bill sick with a double ear infection, three performances of Dames of the Dance (in which I’m performing this year), and the last days of the Cap’n’s job search.
Baruch Hashem, the in-laws left after a pleasant stay, the kids are back in school, Bill is on antibiotics, tonight is the last performance of Dames, and the Cap’n has accepted a comfortable—if not thrilling—job. Salary is good (though by American standards it’s very low), benefits considerable, transportation from our yishuv provided by the company (so the Cap’n can nap instead of drive himself to and from work). He has a few travel requirements during the course of the year, but nothing that should make life too difficult.
In the meantime, my life has undergone a dramatic change also. Where the Cap’n and I have shared daytime parenting duties pretty equally for the last three and a half years (since our aliyah, when he became an independent contractor and worked nights), I am now back in the saddle as the daytime parent. Last time I did this was in Newton, Mass., where I was ferrying children in my Toyota Sienna (the Taj Mahal, I called it) mornings and afternoons to their toddler program, nursery school, gymnastics, and various appointments. The kids were 4, 2, and under a year, and my ability to think straight was heavily taxed. I fought depression constantly, caring for three young children, doing the shopping (to get fresh, kosher, affordable food required me to shop at 7 different stores), and running the house. I had a cleaning team who came every other week and saved me from drowning in chores on top of everything else I was doing, but I still felt like I was in over my head. The days would drag, and I would sometimes wonder when it is that an at-home parent begins to feel human again.
This time around, I am relieved to see that things feel different. There is another child now, but having the others older, more self-sufficient, and more independent makes a huge difference. They can help with Bill, amusing him and pushing him in his stroller while I do laundry, make dinner, or help one of them with homework. I am still shlepping around, shopping, taking kids to gymnastics, and picking up from playdates. But it takes 5 minutes to get somewhere by car in our yishuv, not 20 minutes. (The 20 minutes is if we walk, which the weather here allows us to do most of the time.) Bill is in daycare a few mornings a week which allows me to tackle the clutter in the house, cook dinner well in advance without worrying about stepping on toys or small fingers, and do laundry. The house is quiet at last, and I’m much more productive with everyone out of it, including the Cap’n whose company I enjoy, but whose contribution to the household disorder is, shall we say, not inconsiderable.
The downside is that the Cap’n will no longer be a part of the children’s days to the extent that he was before. Banana once asked if a friend could come over to play. When the Cap’n got off the phone with the child’s mother and reported that she had too much to do that afternoon to bring Banana’s friend to play, Banana asked the Cap’n, “Well, ask if her Abba can!” The bright side is that the children have been delightfully spoiled having their father around for these important early years. While I’m sad for them that those days are over, most children never get them at all.
So I’m once again in charge of the house and the children. While it’s not very prestigious, and certainly doesn’t pay real money, it’s something I’m competent at, and the working conditions this time around are definitely better.